The Collectors Corner


It is a pleasure to introduce this new column to answer your questions and provide information on your fine antiques, collectibles or heirlooms from grandmas attic. This column is for everyone whether you are a serious collector of antiques or just spring cleaning and curious about something found in the back of your closet.

The idea for this column came from my work in the Trusts and Estates department of The Potomack Company Auctions and Appraisals in Old Town. The staff of The Potomack Company has helped  many customers sell their belongings at auction from postcard collections to fine paintings. We have been fascinated by some of the stories our customers have related about their items as well as delighted to inform them of an unsuspected treasure.

Please forward questions about your antiques, fine art, decorative objects or historical memorabilia along with digital photographs, if possible. Include as much information as you can,  including its history (what we call provenance), condition and anything else that will help the expert appraisers at The Potomack Company give you a thorough answer. Email your questions and photos to or send them to me at The Potomack Company, 526 North Fayette Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314.

To start off this week, here are some details about two interesting objects from our next auction to be held on June 30. They are from the estate of the late Daniel J. Boorstin, who was the Librarian of Congress as well as a Pulitzer prize-winning author. Mr. Boorstin always wore his trademark bow ties, and we have more than 250 of them coming up for auction. In addition to being a literary figure, Mr. Boorstin was also an art enthusiast, and we are pleased to offer notable works from his collection.

Among the items in the estate is a cast iron folk statue of George Washington that was produced by the Mott Iron Works in Brooklyn, New York, in the second half of the nineteenth century and was previously owned by Mrs. John D.Rockefeller, Jr. and Colonial Williamsburg. The statue was exhibited in 1931 in American Folk Sculpture: The Work of 18th and 19th Century Craftsmen at the Newark Museum and was later included in the momentous 1932 exhibition of Mrs. Rockefellers collection at the Museum of Modern Art. The statue would originally have rested atop a stove and served as a radiator for the stoves heat. Martha Washington stove-tops were also manufactured.

Mr. Boorstin also owned several kinetic murals by Frank J. Malina (1912-1981) that will be included in the auction. Malina was a scientist and artist who co-founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California in 1944. He used his scientific knowledge and appreciation for esthetics to combine light and motion in art. Malinas creations were exhibited worldwide in galleries and art shows, and his works are today represented in major collections and museums from Paris to Prague and  the Smithsonian Institution. 

I look forward to your questions and photographs. Due to the volume of queries, this column will be unable to respond to every one.

(Lucie Holland is in the Trusts and Estates department at The Potomack Company in Old Town Alexandria. For help with selling your objects while moving, settling an estate or just cleaning house, please call 703-684-4550 or visit our website at